Cozy Literature poll

Hi, readers!
Just in time for a pumpkin spice latte and the start of a long-awaited autumn (just me?) here is your cozy literature poll! Thank you for the recommendations, and a big shout-out to the r/CozyFantasy subreddit which may or may not have taken over my life.
Unless requested otherwise, our meetings for these will be September 23 and October 7th.
For those interested, our Dungeon Crawler Carl meeting for book 6 will take place sometime in the next two weeks. I’m waiting to check in with a couple of you for your availability. ! I will update this post and the front page as well as send out an announcement when I know more. I think this is going to be a fun discussion, especially after the long wait for the book release!
Our next genre is going to be historical fiction. Please submit your recommendations when you get a chance.
We have six book options, so you may vote for 3. I will announce the winners on Tuesday morning. If you feel even slightly like you don’t have enough time to read, please let me know and I will shift the dates around.

A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers

Centuries before, robots of Panga gained self-awareness, laid down their tools, wandered, en masse into the wilderness, never to be seen again. They faded into myth and urban legend.

Now the life of the tea monk who tells this story is upended by the arrival of a robot, there to honor the old promise of checking in. The robot cannot go back until the question of “what do people need?” is answered. But the answer to that question depends on who you ask, and how. They will need to ask it a lot. Chambers’ series asks: in a world where people have what they want, does having more matter?

Notable review by Melanie

“…it is enough to exist in the world and marvel at it. You don’t need to justify that, or earn it. You are allowed to just live.”

this was just the perfect book for the exact right time that i needed to read it in my life. we all know books and words and stories have healing powers that are immeasurable, but this book truly feels like you’re putting on a band-aid immediately. i am so eternally thankful for becky chambers writing it, and i know it is going to help and comfort so many readers forever.

this felt like a love letter to communication, to finding comfort, and ultimately to just not feeling alone. it touches on how healing nature can be, and how we are all truly connected through it. yet, we have so much we still can learn from one another. but also how there is so much in this world none of us will ever understand, but knowing we are so linked and experiencing so many things together… it makes it not so scary, not so daunting, not so… alone. especially when we are allowing ourselves to feel experiences fully and wholeheartedly. because we were truly put on this earth to do so much more than produce. especially when we are creatures with the ability to feel so very deeply.

and this story really helps emphasize how powerful a cup of tea can be. :]

tw/cw: talk of spiders + insects, mention of animal death, blood + wound depiction.

Legends and Lattes by Travis Baldree

After a lifetime of bounties and bloodshed, Viv is hanging up her sword for the last time.

The battle-weary orc aims to start fresh, opening the first ever coffee shop in the city of Thune. But old and new rivals stand in the way of success — not to mention the fact that no one has the faintest idea what coffee actually is.

If Viv wants to put the blade behind her and make her plans a reality, she won’t be able to go it alone.

But the true rewards of the uncharted path are the travelers you meet along the way. And whether drawn together by ancient magic, flaky pastry, or a freshly brewed cup, they may become partners, family, and something deeper than she ever could have dreamed.

Notable review by Petrik

ARC was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

4.5/5 stars

Legends and Lattes is the wholesome and cozy fantasy you didn’t know you need.

For those of you who don’t know, Travis Baldree has been well known for his role as the audiobook narrator behind Will Wight’s Cradle series. And many other series, really. Legends and Lattes is his debut novel, and I do think Baldree should now be known for his fantasy novel, too. I wouldn’t have known about Legends and Lattes if it weren’t for Twitter. Most of you probably know already, almost all of my favorite novels and stories are intense, emotional, dark, and serious in tone. But I do love slice-of-life as a genre as well. When I saw the cover art—illustrated by Carson Lowmiller—to Legends and Lattes on Twitter, with the premise indicating this is a high fantasy novel with low stakes, I knew I couldn’t go wrong with my expectations entering this book. I knew immediately I should read this when I’m in the mood for something short, cozy, and wholesome. Despite loving slice-of-life in other storytelling mediums such as manga, anime, and TV shows, I seem to struggle to find a terrific slice-of-life fantasy novel. But I got what I wanted here. Legends and Lattes is the slice-of-life fantasy novel I craved and received.

“I told you I came across it in Azimuth, and I remember following the smell to the shop. They called it a café. People just sat around drinking it from these little ceramic cups, and I had to try it, and… it was like drinking the feeling of being peaceful. Being peaceful in your mind. Well, not if you have too much, then it’s something else.”

The story in Legends and Lattes is centered on Viv. Worn out after decades of packing steel and raising hell, Viv, the orc barbarian, cashes out of the warrior’s life with one final score. A forgotten legend, a fabled artifact, and an unreasonable amount of hope lead her to the streets of Thune, where she plans to open the first coffee shop the city has ever seen. However, her dreams of a fresh start making coffees instead of swinging swords are hardly a sure bet. Old frenemies and Thune’s shady underbelly may just upset her plans. To finally build something that will last, Viv will need some new partners and a different kind of resolve. At a glance, it’s easy to advertise this as a fantasy novel about building a new coffee shop in a fantasy world, and yes, it indeed is. But beyond the surface, there were a lot of relatably resonating themes that made Legends and Lattes so precious. Through this premise and the narrative, Baldree highlighted the importance of friendship, found family, love, community, and how good food and beverages never fail. And at its core, I think Legends and Lattes is a story about starting something new. It’s never too late to start something new. Will it be easy? No, it will be difficult. But it’s not impossible. Growing out of your comfort zone is never easy, but good things just might come out of it. Booktube was something I was too afraid to try. For years I contemplated it, and I won’t lie, I still struggle with it at times. But after more than a year, I can say that this new venture has all been so worth it.

“I apologize. Look, I am very bad at this. I don’t really know what I’m doing… This is what I know, what I’ve always known. I just want to know something else, now. To be something else. Everything I said was stupid. I, of all people, ought to know better than to assume anything based on what you were born as. Before you walk out, do you mind if I start over?”

The novel doesn’t feature multiple POV characters. The entire story in Legends and Lattes is told exclusively through the perspective of Viv. There isn’t a lot of characters here, but Baldree focused on quality rather than quantity. Viv started the coffee shop business alone, and soon she will befriend new acquaintances and friends that became irreplaceable to her. It’s never too late to do something new, but starting a coffee shop business on your own without anyone’s help is a task that may be too difficult to execute. Cal, Tandri, and Thimble taught Viv and us readers that it is okay to believe in the kindness of strangers. As improbable as it sounds sometimes, especially to us who tasted adulthood already, not every stranger is out to get us. And Legends and Lattes remind us that there is goodness and kindness in this world. I loved reading the character development of Viv, Tandri, Cal, and Thimble. Thimble needs to be protected at all costs.

“Right… and one thing I remember particularly well from our little chat was how much she hated assholes. You know, some people might consider any of her crew to be assholes, just because of the nature of the business. But I don’t think that way… I’ve got respect for people who have to get their hands dirty to get things done. That’s just work. No, it takes something special to be a real asshole, and I think she and I are of the same mind.”

It’s not only the characters, too. Even seeing their friendship and hard work bringing results in the form of a new menu genuinely made me smile. Oh my god, the description of the drinks and the food in this book is irresistible. I actually can’t recommend this book to you if you’re on a diet. I want to taste the coffee, the latte, Thimblet’s cinnamon roll, Midnight Crescents, and more. If you’re in the mood for an epic fantasy novel with warfare, battle scenes, and an expansive world-building, then this may not be the novel for you right now. But even then, I still would recommend Legends and Lattes to every fantasy reader. I am, after all, a fan of epic fantasy and grimdark fantasy, too, and I still end up loving this thoroughly. Slice-of-life does not mean that the story lacks tension, the conflicts the characters encounter are just different than the ones we often read in epic fantasy. I mean, if you know life, you know just how stressful life can get sometimes. And the narrative never takes a pause. Baldree made sure the progressions in character development and business making always happen with each chapter. Additionally, the 31 chapters in this novel are filled with their own unique chapter icon. All of these, with the combination of Baldree’s accessible prose, transformed Legends and Lattes into a page-turning—and cozy—reading experience.

“I was just thinking that you don’t have to forget who you were… because that’s what brought you here.”

Legends and Lattes by Travis Baldree is a serendipitous novel. I didn’t search for it, its existence came out of nowhere, and it instantly became one of my favorite books of the year. I have a strong instinct this book will be incredibly famous one day, sooner than later. I absolutely enjoyed it. A great book and delicious food are things in this world that never fail to make me feel happy and alive. I can’t live without them. If you feel the same way, how about trying this relaxing book? Legends and Lattes is truly a feel-good fantasy novel at its finest. I eagerly wait for the next book by Baldree. I want more out of this world, and I’ve asked the author about his plan. Fortunately, Baldree plans to make this a series of standalone novels/series similar to Discworld by Terry Pratchett. This is most likely the best direction for the series, and I couldn’t be more pleased. Pick up this book as soon as possible, and have a refreshing taste of Legends and Lattes.


Drinks and Sinkholes by S. Usher Evans

Bev may not know who she was before she showed up in the quaint village of Pigsend five years ago, but that doesn’t bother her much. She’s made a tidy little life for herself as the proprietor of the Weary Dragon Inn, where the most notable event is when she makes her famous rosemary bread.

But when earthquakes and sinkholes start appearing all over town, including near Bev’s front door, she’s got to put on her sleuthing hat to figure out what—or who—might be causing them before the entire town disappears.

Drinks and Sinkholes is the first book in the Weary Dragon Inn Series.

Notable review by Colin Letch

I am so glad that I backed this book on Kickstarter! This was my first experience with S. Usher Evans and she did not disappoint. “Cozy fantasy” has become one of my favorite genres because there is certainly enough in our world that is far from cozy and while we must confront those things head on it’s nice to have a reprieve when I read. Drinks and Sinkholes is a perfect addition to the genre.

Pigsend immediately drew me in with its steady heroine, idyllic locale, and charming populace. Bev, our protagonist and the proprietor of The Weary Dragon Inn, is someone I quickly grew to admire and aspire to emulate. Throughout the book we see that she does right by those in her life no matter the hard work involved, even when she gets the door slammed in her face as thanks. Fantasy is rife with sympathetic villains, hilarious thieves, and those who blur the lines between good and evil. These all make for wonderful stories but it’s nice to have someone that I can genuinely admire in all regards.

As for the locals, they provide a wide range of personalities and friendships/conflicts that make the village feel fully realized. S. Usher Evans manages to write classic roles (the cranky neighbor, the muscular butcher, the hapless sheriff, etc.) without falling into tropes. For example, the butchers are strong and also intelligent as opposed to being meatheads (pun intended). A big factor in making these characters real instead of stereotypical is the representation in the book. Readers will encounter multiple members of the LGBTQ+ community in what I like to call the “Schitt’s Creek” vibe. Nothing is remarked upon as being different or unacceptable to some, people just are who they are and everyone accepts it. What a world to live in!

The plot is well-paced with chapters that deliver enough to move the story along without a Tolkien-level obsession with the leaves on a tree. No shade, I personally love Tolkien but that’s not what I’m looking for in this genre. The stakes are serious enough to lend urgency to Bev’s mission but the heart of Pigsend and its citizens remains true despite some hiccups. S. Usher Evans has done a fantastic job filling out the plot of this book while dropping just enough hints of a broader world to be explored in the future. I can’t wait for the next volume!

*a town that I’m dying to live in
*not the heroine we deserve, but the heroine we need
*small populace with a big heart
*enough plot to keep you hooked yet perfect for reading with a cup of tea and a blanket
*if you listen to the audio version, the narrator absolutely knocks it out of the park
*part of a series, you will want more of this world when you finish

*I have to wait for the next book
*No recipe for the amazing rosemary bread that Bev bakes for her guests

The Hands of the Emperor by Victoria Goddard

An impulsive word can start a war.
A timely word can stop one.
A simple act of friendship can change the course of history.

Cliopher Mdang is the personal secretary of the Last Emperor of Astandalas, the Lord of Rising Stars, the Lord Magus of Zunidh, the Sun-on-Earth, the god.
He has spent more time with the Emperor of Astandalas than any other person.
He has never once touched his lord.
He has never called him by name.
He has never initiated a conversation.

One day Cliopher invites the Sun-on-Earth home to the proverbially remote Vangavaye-ve for a holiday.

The mere invitation could have seen Cliopher executed for blasphemy.
The acceptance upends the world.

Notable review by Alexandra Rowland

This book breaks all the laws of book physics. By all rights, this book should not have worked, and yet it DOES, brilliantly, because Victoria Goddard is just that BREATHTAKINGLY good at characters. This is the kindest, gentlest, most empathetic book I have ever read, and it is still delightfully funny and wry, and it has a burning core of fierce righteousness and a belief that good people doing hard, thankless work can make the world BETTER (they institute worldwide universal basic income!!!). The friendship between the two main characters is incredibly profound and I’ve never read anything like it.

Additionally, I do not as a rule cry at books. In all my life there were only two books I’ve ever cried at, and only one scene in each of them. This is the third, and I must have had tears pouring down my face at more than a dozen scenes, not because they are sad at all–nothing very sad happens in this book–but simply because of how much this book CARES, how much these characters matter, and how keenly it portrays the ache of someone with a dream in their heart wanting badly to be Known and Seen and Understood as he really is.

Please, please, please read this book. This is my favorite, favorite book. I have not had a favorite book in years, but this is it.

Cursed Cocktails by S.L. Rowland

When life gives you lemons, squeeze them into a stiff drink and stir.

After twenty years defending the frozen north against some of the most dangerous threats in the nine kingdoms, Rhoren “Bloodbane” has finally earned his retirement. While the blood mage’s service to the realm may have ended, burning veins and aching joints remain, and Rhoren soon learns that a warmer climate offers relief from his chronic pain.

And a chance at a fresh start.

In the warm and relaxing atmosphere of Eastborne, the umbral elf finds a new purpose and a sense of belonging. He may have left the frozen north behind, but he brings with him the skills and strength gained from a lifetime of defending the realm. Along with his most prized possession—a book of drink recipes inherited from his father.

Spilled cocktails may not carry the same weight as spilled blood, but opening a tavern brings a unique brand of challenges. With the right friends and a little bit of luck, he might just have a recipe for success.

Notable reviews by Hobbit Hallie & TL

  • Wow. Just… WOW. I have completely fallen head over heels in love with the cozy fantasy genre in the past year. As soon as I found this book on TikTok I HAD to give it a read. The book cover alone truly caught my eye right away. Every character that I met was so intriguing. I’m looking forward to making the cocktails myself that they had in this book. The last 7% of this story definitely brought me to tears. This is a book I look forward to rereading.
  • *read for free with Kindle Unlimited *

This one got me from the first page, the atmosphere and people felt so real to me.. I wanted to walk the streets and sit in the tavern 🍺 even though I don’t drink, just to soak everything in.

The romance is slight but it had me smiling, especially after everything Rhoren had been through.

It’s slower paced than Legends and Lattes but it was never boring. Not a big plot but it still felt like a lot happened.

I hope there will be more books in this world. I don’t want to say goodbye to these guys.

The final battle scenes had me gripping my tablet and reading as fast as I could without my eyes skipping over things.

I wanted to adopt a certain animal that came into the story:)

Nothing I disliked about this one <3

Miss Percy’s Pocket Guide to the Care and Feeding of British Dragons By Quenby Olson

Miss Mildred Percy inherits a dragon.

Ah, but we’ve already got ahead of ourselves…

Miss Mildred Percy is a spinster. She does not dance, she has long stopped dreaming, and she certainly does not have adventures. That is, until her great uncle has the audacity to leave her an inheritance, one that includes a dragon’s egg.

The egg – as eggs are wont to do – decides to hatch, and Miss Mildred Percy is suddenly thrust out of the role of “spinster and general wallflower” and into the unprecedented position of “spinster and keeper of dragons.”

But England has not seen a dragon since… well, ever. And now Mildred must contend with raising a dragon (that should not exist), kindling a romance (with a humble vicar), and embarking on an adventure she never thought could be hers for the taking.

Notable review by Olivia Atwater

Miss Percy’s Pocket Guide is easily one of the most wholesome books I’ve read. Though the book is historical fantasy, it has the tone of a novel like Legends & Lattes, where things unfold at a mostly sedate pace.

Also, it has a dragon. To be fair, my ten-year-old self was instantly sold by the dragon on the cover. But it was a lovely and fantastically written book on top of having a dragon, you should know.

The novel follows Miss Mildred Percy, a middle-aged spinster living with her younger sister and acting as both governess and errand-woman for the household. Mildred is a meek soul when the book begins; though she isn’t physically mistreated, her younger sister browbeats her and uses her as a sort of prop for her own ego, while expecting endless gratitude for giving Mildred a home. This is a slightly subtler dynamic than happens in a physically abusive relationship, but I feel like many readers can heavily relate to the way that it weighs on Mildred and causes her to doubt her own worth.

One day, however, Mildred receives an unexpected inheritance from her great uncle—a cache of research papers and little objects from his many adventures. For the first time in many years, Mildred hides the inheritance in an act of rebellion, knowing that her sister might try to pick it over for anything worth selling and then discard the rest. Among the objects in the inheritance is a large stone which Mildred believes to be a geode… but of course, given that this book deals with “the care and feeding of British dragons”, we all know what’s inside.

I loved this book very much for many different reasons. For one thing, Mildred is a shy, middle-aged protagonist, which you don’t see very often in a Regency novel. For another thing, Mildred never does become a spitfire; though she learns to stand up for herself in a few ways over the course of the book, she does so in her own way, without changing herself completely. From a romantic standpoint, while the romance in the book is very light, I truly loved the male love interest, Mr Wiggan—the local vicar, who is gentle, kind, and slightly balding.

But of course, the character who takes the cake is really Fitz, the little baby dragon, for whom I would happily die a thousand deaths. For a character without a single spoken line, Fitz really steals the show just by being painfully adorable and slightly (okay moderately) dangerous. The one time someone dared to swat at Fitz in this book, I was ready for Mildred to commit fully-justifiable homicide.

Style-wise, Miss Percy’s Pocket Guide has its own unique voice, which is full of run-ons, and parentheticals, and parentheticals within parentheticals. This is all very clearly on purpose, and it’s definitely written in a charming fashion. That said, if you happen to be sick or tired, it can be a little difficult to follow at times, as you might have to reread once or twice to put together all the pieces of one of Mildred’s meandering thoughts. I loved the book as-is, and I wouldn’t change this for the world—but because of this, I’d recommend not to read this book while distracted by other things. Give it its own little block of time, with a cup of hot cocoa and a cat in your lap. You won’t be disappointed.

Vote Here

What shall we red next? (Vote for up to 3)

  • Legends and Lattes by Travis Baldree (25%, 7 Votes)
  • A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers (21%, 6 Votes)
  • The Hands of the Emperor by Victoria Goddard (18%, 5 Votes)
  • Cursed Cocktails by S.L. Rowland (14%, 4 Votes)
  • Drinks and Sinkholes by S. Usher Evans (11%, 3 Votes)
  • Miss Percy's Pocket Guide to the Care and Feeding of British Dragons (11%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 10

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